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Duquesne proposes its own host fee

| Thursday, March 13, 2014, 4:56 a.m.

Duquesne officials want to impose a $500,000 host fee on the Municipal Authority of the City of McKeesport.

Mayor Phil Krivacek made the city's wishes public during Wednesday's council meeting, nearly three months after sending a letter to the municipal authority board.

The letter indicates council's intent to establish a “reasonable host fee” during its February meeting. That action did not occur because Duquesne officials have yet to hear back from anyone representing McKeesport's municipal authority.

With McKeesport already charging a $1 million host fee of the regional authority, Krivacek said Duquesne should have the same privilege to recoup its costs associated with maintaining a local plant.

“The same level of service is provided by the city of Duquesne,” Krivacek said. “We plow. We cut grass. We have police and fire services here in Duquesne.”

Duquesne signed its sewage treatment plant, located under the Thompson Run Bridge where Route 837 intersects with N. Duquesne Avenue, over to the Municipal Authority of the City of McKeesport in November 2010.

In addition to funds brought in by that sale, Duquesne officials said their city deserves to be compensated for its police, fire, code enforcement and administrative services associated with the treatment facility's location.

When McKeesport imposed its fee on the municipal authority in 2012, it was established as an intergovernmental cooperation agreement that included shared equipment and infrastructure improvement costs.

Led by North Versailles Township officials, some municipalities served by the authority took issue with it and threatened the pursuit of legal action, assuming the fee would cause sewage rates to increase.

Duquesne Solicitor Patricia McGrail said she believes the root of those complaints is in the perception that McKeesport's fee is inflated.

“In this particular case, I think we've reasonably related the amount of the fee to the services provided,” McGrail said. “I think other municipalities have (taken issue) with the $1 million amount of McKeesport's host fee.”

Krivacek said Duquesne residents already have seen rate increases that are “excessive and unwarranted.” Previous rates were $5.75 for every 1,000 gallons. Now, residents are charged $25 for the first 2,000 gallons and $7.95 per additional thousand gallons.

“It is unrealistic for the authority to raise these rates when our residents continue to struggle to pay for sewage at the previously established rates,” Krivacek wrote.

Duquesne council intends to enact an ordinance in which the $500,000 will be payable to the city by June 30 of each year. Because the fee was not established by January of this year, council said the fee will be prorated based on the date of its approval.

McKeesport officials could not be reached for comment at presstime.

Jennifer R. Vertullo is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1956, or jvertullo@tribweb.com.

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